This is Buckingham Palace, which is the official residence of HerMajesty The Queen. You’re going to come with me for a tour, so please, come on in. You are now standing inside the Grand
Entrance of Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is the home of Her
Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the other members of the Royal
Family so it’s a beautiful place. But still a working palace, that’s what’s
really important to remember. My role as Master of the Household is a very ancient role. It is over 400 years old. It started off with James I in 1603. In
modern terms, I would say, people would call me the Chief Operations Officer for
The Queen. I would now like to introduce you to Anna Reynolds. Anna is the curator of paintings for Royal Collection Trust. I’m going to take
you on an Expedition through Buckingham Palace today, pointing out some of the
highlights and showing you the various different rooms that make up the Palace.
This wasn’t always a Palace. Buckingham Palace wasn’t always a palace, it was
actually originally a smaller house called Buckingham House and it belonged to the Duke of Buckingham, which who it’s named after. It was bought as a private family home by George III. His son, George the IV decided that he
wanted to make it more magnificent and turn it into a palace. He engaged the
architect John Nash to make changes to the palace and to make the rooms larger.
He actually changed the entrance hall here, he lowered the floor so the ceiling
would appear taller and he added the amazing flights of stairs that really
give you this sense of excitement as you move up into the rest of the State Rooms.
Something that you might spot are all the different marble columns that are
around this room. There were originally a hundred and four here in the Marble Hall –
that’s why it’s called the Marble Hall. In 1829, one very very large block of marble was brought along the Thames. It actually weighed as much as two
double-decker buses, so you can imagine it took 17 horses to transport it here.
We’re going to continue up the Grand Staircase. One of the most expensive
things in the Palace is something you might not expect – it’s the balustrade. You can see here
making up the bannister, this actually made of gilt-bronze, so its bronze that’s
been cast into this very ornate design and then covered in a very thin layer of
gold and it makes up this Grand Staircase. As visitors move up from the
darkness of the Grand Entrance into the light up here, it creates this
magnificent feeling. After you come up the Grand Staircase and through the
Guard Room, you enter the Green Drawing Room. I think it’s quite easy to
understand why it’s called the Green Drawing Room. The walls have always been hung with green silk and its replaced about every
thirty years. You can also see here, green upholstered furniture and
green Serves porcelain on the various different mantelpieces and on cabinets around the room. Now, one of my favorite pictures in the whole
Collection and in this room, is this one here which shows three daughters of
George III, and I love this painting because it shows three children
who actually lived here when this was a house, when it was still a
private home. Now we’re going to go into the Throne Room. This
magnificent room is the Throne Room. So as you walk up the Grand Staircase and
progress through the different rooms, you reach the throne room.
The throne of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II is on the left and that of her
husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is on the right. What makes
the room so special is the fact that it was designed by a theatre
designer so that element of theatricality is everywhere. There are
swags of curtains that look like curtains that close onto a stage, you’ve got these amazing sparkling chandeliers, that now are electric light, but originally
when this room was built would have been candlelight. We are now standing in the
Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace, which is an incredibly long room that
was created by knocking through three rooms in the original Buckingham House.
Right in the middle of the Palace, this room was made for George IV
because he wanted to display his amazing collection of paintings. George IV
absolutely loved painting and he bought particularly Dutch art
which is what you can see surrounding the walls at this end of the room. There are lots of Italian pictures and
I’d like to point out this, which is this view of Venice by the Italian artist Canaletto.
We have the largest collection of Canaletto in the
Royal Collection that exists anywhere in the world. There are over 50 in the Royal
Collection and they were all bought as a group. They came into the Collection by
George III in 1762 when he bought an entire group of pictures and used them to decorate his palaces. Now, to tell you a bit more about what this room looks and feels like on the evening
of a State Banquet, I’ll pass over to the Master again. Well, you can imagine this is the
centerpiece of a State Visit. A State Banquet is a fabulous
spectacle. As you can imagine, the atmosphere is electric. Exactly where I’m standing now is where The Queen is at the top table. The Queen is
sitting here, and can see me very clearly if anything’s going wrong.
The Head of State is on her right- hand side. You can imagine over
200 people in this room, 271 guests, and the tables are groaning with silver and gold, with over five and a half thousand pieces of silver, over 2,000 pieces of
cutlery; knives, forks, spoons, and over a thousand glasses, all Georgian glasses, well over 200 years old. Then we’ve got
about eighty of my staff serving these hundreds of people four courses and
five types of wine. At the end, the finale is created by 12 pipers
walking around the Ballroom, the whole room filled with a glorious sound of bagpipes, and they they really do sound fantastic.
So it gives a completely new meaning to so surround sound. Now this is the White Drawing Room. It’s
another one of the rooms The Queen uses for entertaining and for receiving guests. You can see it is one of the most ornate with amazing chandeliers, yellow
upholstered furniture and then over in the corner there’s a gold piano. It was bought by Queen Victoria. She actually played the piano very, very well with her husband
and it is is decorated with mischievous monkeys making music getting up to all sorts of trouble. Another amazing work of art in this room
is this desk, which is from the late 18th century, and its inlaid with all sorts of different wood
and originally when it was made the wood would have been different colors
so the patterns that you can see which are flowers and fruit would have stood
out much more strongly. But even within six months of it being made that faded
to all these different kind of browns. This desk is actually very special
because it has a complicated mechanism inside. You can actually only open the lower drawers when the top of the
desk is rolled back and there are secret drawers and a secret hidden
compartment. There is another secret in this room I’m going to show you.
If you follow me – not everyone gets to see this – this is a
room from where The Queen can suddenly appear and that’s because there’s a
secret door. When you look at this wall you see the fireplace and on either side
you see cabinet with porcelain and candelabra on top but the cabinet on the left actually
opens and it reveals the secret door. That’s where The Queen comes from her private apartments when she’s meeting guests here. I just wanted to say thank you so much for letting me show you around. I hope you’ve
enjoyed it, hope you enjoyed finding out more about the rooms with some of the
amazing paintings and works of art here. We really hope you’ve enjoyed your tour
of Buckingham Palace, we certainly enjoyed having you and thank you so much for coming to join us. If you have an interest in anything you have
seen, if something has caught your eye – a picture of work of art – please don’t hesitate to visit our
website its royalcollection.org.uk There is lots of information there,
particularly about schools resources, school trips and e-learning resources,
for teaching resources all on the website, for all the occupied palaces,
specifically Buckingham Palace but also Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England and
also the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Thank you so much
for coming again and please come back again for a visit.